Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

16 November 2012

Namibia: Artisans Crucial to Socio-Economic Development-NIMT

Feeding industry with thousands of vocational training graduates per annum, the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology has not only grown in capacity but is bringing education to the doorsteps of many young people.

Since inception, the Institution has opened a Northern Campus in Tsumeb, a Southern Campus in Keetmanshoop as well as a second campus in Arandis, and according to Principal NET, Ralph Bussel big plans are in the pipeline for the Southern Campus.

"We want to train enough capable students to take up different positions for all the sectors in our economy and that is why we are always striving for expansion. It is important for students to be equipped with the right training and for the industry to have the right workforce," said Bussel.

He said that with the Husab Mining Project plan underway, a skilled force of 4,000 artisans is needed to set up the mine but because the country does not have the skilled man-power, valuable positions will have to be taken up by foreign expertise who can do the job. "We need to invest more in our vocational training as it is key to any country's development. And in that way we are investing in our own well-being."

Bussel confidently told the Economist that the Institution is living up to its mandate as it is training many young people in all kinds of fields. "We are definitely living up to our mandate. With a pass rate of 78% and a completion rate of plus or minus 95%, we are playing a major role in skills development."

He said that although NIMT envisions to par with industry, it is often difficult as industry is on a continuous development scale and keeping up with latest technological advancements can be costly. "We would love to get up to standard with industry but it costs money and most of our students are loan holders from the government. Fields such as the electrical courses have new and more sophisticated electronic equipment every fifth year and the chemical courses change every tenth year and keeping up with all these equipment and material is expensive."

Bussel said that the registration rates have increased tremendously due to high demand for the skilled but the institution can only accommodate a certain percentage and well performing students.

He proudly said that students come from all over the country even from the PON and UNAM because they want to take advantage of the vocational training demands from industry and supply these demands.

He added that although they train most of the students for industry, there is also a significant amount of SME development amongst the students after studies. "Although most of our graduates are absorbed by industry, a lot have opted to be their own bosses and about 40% actually come back to NIMT and work for the Institution because of the dynamic impact of investing in vocational training."

Saying that with the good relationship that NIMT has built with industry, job attachments and placements are not difficult for students as companies are willing to do their part in fostering skill development.

NIMT has two semesters and takes in students with a minimum age of 16 years as well as a satisfactory grade symbol in mathematics and physical science. The Institution was handed over to the government after independence by Rio Tinto and its first branch was in Arandis.

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